I decided to browse the wonderful world, wide, web in the hope of finding some inspiring stories or artwork to kick off my first blog of 2014. I stumbled across this fantastic illustration which cleverly depicts the often awkwardness experienced from talking to people who are battling cancer. The piece was put together by Jo Hilder - a cancer survivor who, since overcoming her illness (Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma) in 2004, has become part of the Cancer Council NSW organisation in Australia.
The illustration, in my opinion, really helps covey how a patient diagnosed with cancer can experience such a dichotomy of other people's thoughts, feelings and questions. It begs the question; What do you say to someone who has cancer? That is a question that possibly cannot be defined with a single answer. It must depend on the individuals involved - some may find humour a release, some may not wish to acknowledge the disease itself, some may pour their heart out and be a complete open book about things. The latter was my chosen method, for what it's worth. People often want to help - but do not realise just how -and this is perfectly normal. The experience of cancer to a friend, loved one or relative can be extremely difficult to comprehend and often people are afraid of discussing the very reason they are visiting their friend, the elephant in the room, the cancer.
The illustration cleverly annotates the questions and thoughts laid down, in red - and almost acts as the 'voice of reason' if you will, like an omnipotent presence that can see the situation for what it is and subsequently narrate the audience throughout this 'journey'.
I think this artwork is an excellent depiction of the journey of a patient told through the things people say. Whilst the annotations make it seem almost light-hearted in tone, there is perhaps an underlying true sentiment to the overall cluster of comments, confusion and the mixture of not knowing what to say. Words such as 'That's terrible and 'I'm sorry' along with the small gestures such as 'hugs and other stuff', 'transport' and 'home help' all covey the confusion, sentiments thoughts which conjure up a blueprint of how to talk to someone who has cancer.
Chances are if you haven't experienced cancer yourself then you may well know someone who has - and i'm sure there's something for everyone to take heed of in this fantastic illustration.
Find out more about Jo Hilder here
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